Outlines steps to build the case for integration of nature into business decisions and collaborating with others who share our vision.
Materials sciences leader Dow (NYSE: DOW) has published its blueprint for valuing nature, which is the latest addition to the Company’s 2025 Sustainability Goal: Leading the Blueprint.
It takes stakeholders through the six steps of the nature journey, as defined by the Valuing Nature goal team and developed with Dow’s decade-long collaborator on the goal, The Nature Conservancy: set the vision; build awareness; embed tools; collaborate externally; track progress; and inspire & grow.
Dow shares this blueprint with the hope that its stakeholders will follow its path of collaborating and advancing sustainability through embracing nature and the benefits it offers.
“The Valuing Nature goal is more than halfway to its $1 billion target of delivering value through business-driven projects that enhance nature.
The work has resulted in a collection of best practices and effective collaborations addressing the most pressing global challenges today.
With the release of this blueprint, we invite other companies and stakeholders to leverage the blueprint and seek to value nature in business decisions through projects that are both good for companies and better for ecosystems.”Andre Argenton, Dow’s chief sustainability officer and vice president of Environment, Health and Safety
Something for Everyone – Inside the Blueprint
In addition to guiding stakeholders through the Valuing Nature journey, they can find more than 10 case studies, videos and previous examples of how Dow, through partnership and collaboration, has enhanced ecosystem services and the surrounding community at several of its sites around the world.
This blueprint also contains nature-based project results, links to publicly available tools, a glimpse of Dow’s integral partnerships and how the Company is performing against its 2025 goals.
Dow acknowledges that it must continue to partner with others to create a more sustainable planet and is committed to sharing its insight with the world as the goal progresses.
Dow invites everyone — from students to environmentalists and business leaders — to dive into its newly released blueprints and reflect on how these learnings can be replicated in future projects.
Dow’s blueprint for valuing nature
Dow’s Valuing Nature Goal, part of its 2025 Sustainability Goals, sets out to achieve $1 billion in net present value through projects that are good for business and better for ecosystems.
It is built on a simple premise: When a company makes a fully informed decision on how its operations rely on and affect nature, it can lead to better outcomes for business and conservation.
The Valuing Nature Blueprint outlines the six steps Dow used to build the business case for integrating nature conservation across the company and collaborating with others who share our vision.
This blueprint shares that journey from planting the visionary seed to producing the seed for others to plant.
The Blueprint: Six Steps of Valuing Nature
1. Set the vision
Plant the seed.
While evaluating Dow’s 2005-2015 Sustainability Goals and in the spirit of striving for continued improvement, the question was asked: How else can we advance sustainability in business?
The answer: Nature. Recognizing we are not nature experts; we reached out to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and started a strategic collaboration in 2011.
Built on a shared vision to make a business case for nature, the collaboration led to the creation of the Valuing Nature Sustainability Goal, part of Dow’s 10-year 2025 Sustainability Goals launched in 2015.
This ambitious goal set a target to deliver $1 billion in net present value by 2025 through projects that are good for business and better for nature and gave the company, stakeholders, and employees a clear vision of Dow’s ambition to prioritize nature as a stakeholder.
A passionate Valuing Nature team was formed to help incorporate a nature lens in decision-making across Dow’s global business and drive collaborations that are a win-win-win for Dow, nature and potential collaborators.
2. Build awareness
Help ideas sprout
Just as a seed needs to be planted in nutrient-rich soil to thrive, Dow’s culture also needed to nurture and drive the success of the Valuing Nature Goal.
Internal awareness and corporate culture change were important factors in helping Team Dow see the financial opportunity of applying a nature lens to business decisions.
By hosting nature goal workshops and communicating success stories through case studies and sharing promotional videos, employees began to understand the value in nature capital and how they can contribute.
For Dow, a pipeline of projects came from four key areas: process improvements, nature-based solutions, conservation, and new products.
Active participation helps move from early adoption to mainstream action.
3. Embed tools
A nature lens takes root.
The aim is to embed a Nature Valuation Methodology into existing work processes.
For the Valuing Nature Goal to take root, Dow employees, who are typically not well-versed in ecology and conservation sciences, needed easy-to-use tools to make better decisions about valuing nature.
By applying a Nature Valuation Methodology, business decisions can be made that consider not just business value but also nature capital value.
The methodology includes a three-tiered project valuation methodology (Guertin et al. 2019):
- An initial screen to identify potential opportunities at a very early stage of a project.
- A subsequent analysis to identify and quantify environmental impacts of the proposed project using the Ecosystem Services Identification and Inventory (ESII) tool, or traditional Life Cycle Analysis.
- A final step that considers and compares the financial and natural capital returns associated with the various project alternatives referred to as scorecard.
4. Collaborate externally
At Dow, we realize Valuing Nature is intrinsically outward-focused.
Branching out into the world can help grow impact and bring mutual benefits to Dow, its collaborators and nature.
Collaborators can be from a variety of sectors (e.g., government, non-governmental organizations, academia, suppliers, or customers) and can bring many different strengths to a project (e.g., expertise, reputation, global reach, or regulatory support).
An external stakeholder assessment tool can help identify and prioritize potential collaborators.
Since 2011, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has been a key collaborator with Dow in making the business case to value nature.
Since then, Dow also has collaborated with organizations from several sectors to incorporate nature into decision-making processes.
5. Track progress
What has blossomed?
Progress toward the goal is not always linear, nor is it always by leaps and bounds.
Progress may be many small projects that add up, incrementally contributing to the goal.
Or, like a tree weathering a storm, progress can have its setbacks and may potentially need cultural reinforcement.
Are employees applying a nature lens to business decisions?
Are collaborations at their strongest potential?
When assessing environmental returns, how do you weigh trade-offs or competing dimensions?
Although business value is easily measurable in net present value, tracking the value to nature can be more complicated.
This can be done through tools such as the ESII Tool or Nature Scorecard developed by TNC and Dow or through a Life Cycle Analysis.
A third-party validation may also be appropriate.
6. Inspire and grow
Share the seed, grow the forest.
Dow hopes its Valuing Nature journey and blueprint provide the seed to help other companies and organizations that are seeking to incorporate nature conservation into business decision-making.
Beyond the bottom-line benefits, Dow established its Valuing Nature Goal to demonstrate to other companies how shared risks – such as water scarcity and climate disruption – can become shared opportunities for businesses and communities when they invest in nature-based solutions.
That is why we continue to share all tools, lessons learned and research results publicly and through peer review to enable other companies, scientists and interested parties to test and apply them.
How can science help create a more sustainable world?
It takes collaboration and innovation.
At Dow, we’re working to deliver a sustainable future for the world by connecting and collaborating to find new options for materials that make life better for everyone.
We invite you to build on our blueprint as you plant the seeds of sustainability and profitability in your organization.
Dow (NYSE: DOW) combines global breadth; asset integration and scale; focused innovation and materials science expertise; leading business positions; and environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership to achieve profitable growth and deliver a sustainable future.
The Company’s ambition is to become the most innovative, customer centric, inclusive and sustainable materials science company in the world.
Dow’s portfolio of plastics, industrial intermediates, coatings and silicones businesses delivers a broad range of differentiated, science-based products and solutions for its customers in high-growth market segments, such as packaging, infrastructure, mobility and consumer applications.
Dow operates 104 manufacturing sites in 31 countries and employs approximately 35,700 people.
Dow delivered sales of approximately $55 billion in 2021. References to Dow or the Company mean Dow Inc. and its subsidiaries.